Classical Music

Passport Canada – John Estacio

Bienvenue and welcome to Canada!

Welcome to my second of 24 composers I’ll be profiling throughout 2014. Not having formally studied music, I’m learning a lot about composers I’d never heard of or whose music I barely knew. This month is no exception as we travel to Canada to learn a little bit about composer, John Estacio.

In preparation for this profile, I wanted to at least name other composers from Canada but quickly learned I just didn’t know any. I really didn’t! Knowing I had my work cut out for me, I reached out to my musician friends and look who I met!

My brief mention here doesn’t do them justice, so please click on their names to learn more these composers from up north: Jocelyn Morlock – Composer-in-residence for Vancouver’s concert series, Music-on-Main. As a pianist, she’s automatically cool in my book. There are also contemporary composers Oskar Morawetz (1917-2007) and Jacques Hétu  (1938-2010).

John Estacio

I’ve chosen John Estacio because his music was the first music played of the Masterworks Series of concerts with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. I think that speaks volumes. Sure our Music Director, Maestro Jean-Marie Zeitouni is Canadian himself (as are our Concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy, Principal 2nd Violin, Alicia Hui, and librarian, Jean-Etienne Lederer!), but to start an entire season with the music of living composers is a wonderful idea and sends out the notion that, despite the thoughts of some writers, classical music is NOT dead! It’s still being created today!


John Estacio

Hometown: Newmarket, Ontario  Canada

Education: Wilfrid Laurier University, University of British Columbia

My favorite works:  Brio

Popular Canadian composer, John Estacio, has worked as the composer-in-residence at a variety of orchestras including the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Calgary Opera. He’s won numerous awards – including the national Arts Center Award for Composers – and is often played in concert halls throughout the US, Canada and beyond.

Speaking of concert halls, John Estacio’s piece, Brio, is what started the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks concert season this year. Like many of Mr. Estacio’s works, it makes great use of the wind, brass and percussion instruments in the orchestra. I had the impression that they didn’t just back up the strings, but instead, they joined the strings on stage. It’s a wonderful and exciting piece to listen to – especially in a live setting.

Another well-known piece is known as Frenergy, an orchestral piece that was originally written for something else, but ended up standing alone as a great concert-opener.

The bulk of the musical material found in this piece comes from sketches for my Triple Concerto. These sketches were to be part of the proposed final movement for the concerto, a fast-paced scherzo to bring the piece to a wild close. However, for various reasons, this ending did not make it to the final draft. Not one to waste, I decided to mount this music on its own for orchestra.

 – John Estacio

Mr. Estacio’s music has been performed by every major orchestra in Canada, many in the US and around the world. From his website:

In the last decade he has composed numerous symphonic and operatic works including Filumena for Calgary Opera/Banff Centre and Lillian Alling for the Vancouver Opera/Banff Centre.  Filumena has received several remounts in Canada and was filmed for television and broadcast on PBS.

Mr. Estacio is well-known for his operatic works, something our fellow Ohioans will soon learn in a couple of weeks with a Cincinnati Ballet world premier production of King Arthur’s Camelot. (Which looks to be really good!).

Here’s a video the Cincinnati Ballet shared about the making of this new ballet that they’ll be performing the weekend of Valentine’s Day.

I hope you enjoyed some samples of his music. To learn more about John Estacio and his music, I highly recommend that you listen to Frenergy above, visit his website or delve further into his repertoire on youtube. Like the music of composers Dave Sartor and Michael Torke, about whom I wrote earlier this month, you’ll find his music fun to listen to – not the crazy discordant stuff one might imagine when thinking of living composers. Try it – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Photo of Mr. Estacio courtesy of Photographer, Wade Kelly. 

Passport of Composers: This is the second of 24 composer profiles that I’ll be posting throughout the year as part of my Passport of Composers from countries around the world. Combining my love of travel with my love of music, I’ve chosen a composer from each of the countries in which I have either lived or visited. Next month will be France – Jean-Féry Rébel (1666-1747) and Germany – Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

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